Ron Rose earned these top honors along with many, many others only after making his mark in the business world as an ambitious entrepreneur who moved from one business success to another. Ron welcomes challenges and this goal-driven mentality is what garnered him accolades in both business and professional poker.
Being able to play professional poker was the culmination of a lifetime dream to play with the best poker players in the world. The dream began innocently enough with the “family poker game” where he began, at the tender age of 8, to sit-in for his grandmother at the poker table. Quiet snickers from the rest of the family poker players soon turned to awe as Ron began to win regularly within one year. With each year that followed, he became better and better until the family decided that they couldn’t afford to lose money or lose face to the youngster any longer.
After that Ron put aside his poker aspirations, and after a stint in the Air Force as a mathematician and project engineer (Ron received his BS in Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts), began his entrepreneurial career. During this time Ron had business interests in commodities, a seat on the American Stock Exchange as a market maker in options, several successful computer businesses and finally became one of the largest regional internet providers in the United States.
While still CEO of his internet business, Ron took some time to pursue another of his interests, competing in duplicate bridge tournaments in pursuit of becoming a Life Master in Bridge. Ron accomplished this in the record time of one year and won the Mini-McKinney award which is given yearly to the player who earns the most master points in one year. This quest having been accomplished, his thoughts turned once again to poker.
After he sold his internet business, Ron decided to take the plunge in the 2000 World Series of Poker. Coming in as an amateur, Ron held up well against the pros and although he made no final tables he was satisfied with how he performed against players with years of professional experience. He decided then and there to become serious about the game. Within a couple of months Ron began to make some final tables and some serious poker money. He also saw the wisdom of taking his game to the tables in Europe where most of the tournaments were pot-limit or no-limit, games where a player can use all of his poker skills.
One of these poker expeditions took him to Vienna, Austria for the World Heads-Up Poker Tournament and a lesson that he will never forget. Down to the final 32 players, Ron was pitted against a fellow American and long time poker legend, Amarillo Slim Preston. At one point in the match, Ron checked and Slim raised post flop and Ron re-raised all-in with pocket Kings (K♣ 10♣ 6x on the flop). Slim responded by looking Ron in the eye and uttering the words, “Let’s go!” Then Slim laid his cards on the table and placed his hands on each side of the cards. He showed KQ off suit with no club. Slim bent over the table towards Ron with great anticipation hoping that his pair of kings with queen high would hold up. At that point Ron turned over his cards showing trip kings. Slim apparently felt his quest for the championship was in jeopardy and surreptitiously (and this is on videotape) with his left hand scooped his cards up, transferred the cards to his right hand, and then pitched them directly into the muck.
Onlookers on the rail – maybe 40 or so, including the dealer, were astounded, but the director of the tournament – an American named Jack McClellan, who, incidentally, was not there to see what happened, came to the table at the request of the dealer and asked Ron only one question – “Did he say ‘call’?” When Ron responded “No,” McClellan ruled that indeed it was not a call. But, consider this, the table was the “featured table” and was being filmed! McClellan refused to look at the video tape. Ron learned something invaluable that day: Never show your cards until you opponent says, “I call.”
Ron’s demeanor at the table that day was, as always, one of a gentleman and although he knew that he had been tricked, he went on with the match. Amarillo Slim won because of that play and coincidentally, in one of his following matches on his way to the finals of the tournament, he uttered those same two words again in a subsequent match. But, strangely enough, this time he meant “I call.” Even the narrator of the tournament, poker pro Barney Boatman, could not believe it!
But Ron had the last laugh when, in that same month, he followed up the defeat in Vienna by winning three tournaments in one week in Paris at the Aviation Club’s Summer Tournament – one in Pot Limit Hold’em, one in Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo and one in Pot Limit Omaha. After these three wins in three different events Ron also won the honor of being named the Best All-Around Player of the Tournament (see photo at left).This was only one year after he played in that first WSOP tournament!
When the World Poker Tour (WPT) began in 2002 Ron was there to play in almost every tournament. He made two final tables, one at the Foxwoods, Connecticut tournament where he placed sixth and one in Reno, Nevada at the World Poker Challenge where he emerged victorious. This win gave him a seat at the First WPT Battle of Champions where he faced all of the other WPT winners of that year to become the first WPT Champion of Champions. This event was the first to be televised on network television (NBC). That same year, 2003, Ron won his first WSOP gold bracelet in the WSOP Seniors’ Tournament (see photo at right). Despite his status as a relative newcomer to the professional poker scene Ron had won three major poker events in one year – a very good year for Ron!
Fans were clamoring for more poker and so when the WPT initiated the Professional Poker Tour (PPT) in 2004, Ron earned a three-year invitation to play with the pros. In that first and only year of the PPT Ron placed third in the first PPT event at the Foxwoods Connecticut November Freeroll, making his mark on yet another pro tour.
In a televised interview for the WPT Battle of Champions, Ron, ever ready for a new challenge, told fans prior to playing the Big Event that if he won, he would probably quit tournament poker. Ron did win the WPT Battle of Champions, and although he didn’t completely retire from the game, he looked for other avenues in which to use his poker skills. Ron soon branched out into teaching tournament poker seminars.